“Going to get someone killed”: Trump lawyer threatens to expose FBI agents even if DOJ redacts names

Attorney Alina Habba calls for release of surveillance footage that could identify agents facing violent threats

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published August 19, 2022 12:22PM (EDT)

Former President Donald Trump speaks on May 28, 2022 in Casper, Wyoming. (Chet Strange/Getty Images)
Former President Donald Trump speaks on May 28, 2022 in Casper, Wyoming. (Chet Strange/Getty Images)

Trump attorney Alina Habba on Thursday suggested releasing surveillance footage of the FBI's search of Mar-a-Lago even though it could reveal the identities of agents who executed it.

Federal Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, who signed off on the search warrant, on Thursday gave the Justice Department a week to propose redactions ahead of a possible release of the probable cause affidavit filed by the DOJ to get the warrant. The DOJ opposed releasing the affidavit at all, arguing that it could expose agents and witnesses and reveal the inner workings of an ongoing investigation. The DOJ is investigating Trump under the Espionage Act after he failed to turn over classified documents he had taken to his residence.

Habba told Newsmax on Thursday that if the affidavit is ultimately released, it is likely to be heavily redacted. She added that she "would love" to see CCTV footage of the raid released to the public, dismissing concerns that the video could reveal agents' identities.

"If you're doing it as an agent, I'm not sure you should have that right," she said. "Listen: FBI agents, undercover agents, that's one thing. But when you go into a president's home, an ex-president's home, what do you expect is going to happen? What do you expect?"

Habba claimed that the Trump team plans to send the video to the DOJ.

"We cooperate! That's what we always do, we always have," she said. "I would love for the country to see what I saw from those cameras."

Despite Habba's claim about cooperation, a Trump lawyer signed a document in June certifying that all of the classified documents had been returned. Investigators later learned from inside sources that Trump still had classified documents at his residence. The DOJ subpoenaed footage from the Mar-a-Lago cameras — but the subpoena is seeking footage from the two months after Trump and his team were in contact with the DOJ before the raid, not video of the search.

Habba's comments came amid a rise in threats against federal law enforcement as Trump and his allies push baseless allegations of political persecution and evidence-planting. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security earlier this week released a joint bulletin warning of an increase in threats to law enforcement officials.

"The FBI and DHS have observed an increase in violent threats posted on social media against federal officials and facilities, including a threat to place a so-called dirty bomb in front of FBI Headquarters and issuing general calls for 'civil war' and 'armed rebellion,'" the bulletin said, adding that some threats are "specific in identifying proposed targets, tactics, or weaponry."

Law enforcement officials also warned of an increase in "personal identifying information of possible targets of violence, such as home addresses and identification of family members, disseminated online as additional targets."

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The FBI has also faced a barrage of smears from TrumpWorld. Habba in a separate appearance on Fox News Thursday told host Sean Hannity that the entire agency is "tainted" because it previously investigated what she described as the "Russia hoax."

National security attorney Bradley Moss warned that the potential release of the surveillance footage would put law enforcement at even greater risk.

"These folks are doing to get someone killed," he said on Twitter.

Habba previously demanded the release of witness information in the affidavit, which the DOJ warned could put individuals at risk and prevent additional witnesses from coming forward.

"I understand the witness protection issue. But at the same time, these witnesses are truly not going to be concealed for very long. That's just not the nature of the DOJ and the FBI. And, unfortunately, our country. There's always leaks." she told Newsmax on Tuesday. "It's in the best interest so that the country can get comfortable to see what the basis was, especially from someone who was cooperating," she added.

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance explained on Twitter that the DOJ would only release such information if Trump was actually charged with a crime.

"The only possible reason to try & get witness identities is so they can be pressure[d] or perhaps retaliated against," she wrote.

"Of course, this is what Trump wants (and it's probably driving him crazy that people are talking to the DOJ about him and he doesn't know who they are)," tweeted former appellate defense attorney Teri Kanefield. "The reasons Trump wants to know are exactly the reasons he shouldn't know."

Trump has reportedly struggled to find elite, experienced attorneys to represent him in the FBI investigation. Instead, he has largely relied on Habba, former OAN host Christina Bobb and Florida insurance lawyer Lindsey Halligan to defend him in media appearances, with varying degrees of success.

Fox News host Laura Ingraham schooled Bobb on Thursday about how Trump's legal team may have screwed up by not filing its own motion to release the affidavit.

"Are you not concerned — because you didn't join any of these motions for the full release of this affidavit — that you're then waiving the possible objections to the way redactions are being done by the Justice Department later on?" Ingraham questioned. "I'm not sure what grounds you're going to have at this point, having waived your right to file those motions," she added.

Meanwhile, Trump's former attorney Rudy Giuliani has also defended the former president in media appearances and on Thursday offered a novel defense for Trump's decision to stash documents at Mar-a-Lago: He was preserving them.

"Really, if you look at the Espionage Act, it's not really about taking the documents," Giuliani told Newsmax. "It's about destroying them. Or hiding them. Or giving them to the enemy. It's not about taking them and putting them in a place that's roughly as safe as they were in in the first place."

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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Aggregate Alina Habba Donald Trump Fbi Mar-a-lago Politics